Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tornadoes Slam Oklahoma; More Twisters Due Today

News chopper view of a Tulsa area
tornado Wednesday afternoon. 
Wednesday was the first day of an expected three day spell of severe weather across much of the southern United States, and Oklahoma seemed to get the worst of it.

There were at least six reports of tornadoes in Oklahoma, the worst of which hit in the Tulsa metro area.

You can see dramatic video of the tornado, backlit by the setting sun, taken from a television news chopper at the bottom of this post.

At least seven people were injured, one critically and several homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed, reports television station KTUL.

Today, if anything the tornado threat will get worse. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center said there could be a couple strong, long lived tornadoes in Mississippi, Alabama or Tennessee in addition to the usual somewhat weaker and not as long lasting twisters you get this time of year.

Very large hail is also possible with these storms, since there's a good supply of cold air aloft to contrast with the warm, humid air near the surface.

Severe storms, tornadoes and hail aren't just limited to Mississippi today. They could happen anywhere from Indiana to the Gulf Coast. Already, early this morning, a tornado watch was up for parts of Louisiana and southern Mississippi.

As expected, the storms were producing torrential rains in the South, an area already saturated by repeated heavy rains and severe floods in February and especially March.

Flash flooding was already occurring this morning in parts of Mississippi, and flash flood watches are up today through Friday for a broad area of the Deep South.

Friday, the threat of severe storms and possible tornadoes will shift east, and be especially focused on southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, the Florida panhandle and much of Georgia.

Here's that wild news chopper video of the tornado around Tulsa, Oklahoma yesterday. Note the multiple vortices within the tornado at about three minutes into the video:

Cruel, Foolish April Will Toy Harshly With Vermont

April Fool coming from Ma
Nature: After warm springtime
weather to close March and open
April, midwinter style cold to
hit Vermont Sunday through
at least Tuesday. Ugh. 
Today, the last day of March, will be warm and quite windy, especially in the Champlain Valley as Mother Nature gets set to toy with us mercilessly to celebrate April, and April Fool's Day.

Before we get into that, a bit of a warning for today. Don't do your burn pile today, don't throw your cigarette butt out the car window and just generally be careful with fire.

The dead grass and leaves of last autumn have dried out. The dry weather and today's strong winds would make fires spread very easily. This is especially true the further east you go, because showers will start to arrive from the west.

But we careful everywhere.

Now, on to April cruelty. April Fool's Day will dawn in Vermont kind of like a muggy July morning.

Low temperatures in the Champlain Valley early Friday might not get below 60 degrees, which is a normal low for July. Other areas will be in the 50s.

Temperatures will stay in the 60s most of the day, with humid air and frequent showers. Maybe there will be a couple rumbles of thunde. Ahhh, Spring! Won't it be nice!

Then the hammer drops. As noted in previous posts, Ma Nature, cruel harridan that she is, will bring us that mid-winter style cold wave Sunday through at least Tuesday.

Amid snow showers scattered about the Green Mountain State Sunday, strong north winds will send temperatures plunging. It won't above freezing Sunday afternoon. In fact, once temperatures go below freezing Saturday night, temperatures in many places won't get above freezing until Tuesday. Maybe Wednesday in some northern sections.

Wind chills in those strong winds Sunday will be at or below zero. A helluva nice switch from Friday's expected mugginess, no?

Forecast weather map depicts strong north winds
and frigid temperatures over the Northeast Sunday.  
Overnight lows Sunday night and Monday night will range between 5 and 15 above in  Vermont. So we go from a low Friday morning that's typical of July to one by Sunday night that's typical for January.  

This will all literally put the freeze on spring. So much for those early green perennials that are coming up in your garden.

Expect a lot of them to die, unfortunately. Eventually spring will get her and things will green up again, but we certainly have a major postponement to spring coming.

In fact, long range computer models, which I admit are not the most reliable, hint at quite a chilly April overall. Maybe we'll have to wait until May for spring?

Or we can hope the long range models are wrong. They often are. We'll see.

I knew we would pay the price for a record warm winter and early spring.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Severe Weather Outbreak Across Southern U.S. Today Through Friday

A wide area, in dark green yellow, and especially orange,
is under the gun for severe weather and possible
tornadoes today.  
What promises to be among the more extensive severe weather outbreaks of the year so far is set to unfold today and tomorrow.

It is spring, so widespread severe weather outbreaks like this aren't as unusual as that big one back in February, but still, it's something everybody in the affected region should keep a serious eye on.

All severe thunderstorm hazards are going to be at play with this one: Tornadoes, damaging winds, very large hail, flash flooding and lightning are all things that will attack a zone from Texas to Georgia over the next few days.  

This particular severe outbreak is part of a weather pattern change that will bring mid-winter style weather this weekend and early next week to the Great Lakes and Northeast.

Actually, the first signs of this severe outbreak started yesterday, with reports of large hail in Nebraska.

According to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, things will really ramp up today in a broad zone in and near the Mississippi Valley from Iowa to the Gulf Coast. The area at the greatest threat is in an area from northeastern Texas, Arkansas, parts of Missouri and northern Louisiana.

Tornadoes will be a threat from Iowa to Texas, but in northeastern Texas and southeastern Oklahoma, conditions are especially favorable for large hail. That's not good news for Texas, which had problems with giant hailstones causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to cars and buildings last week.

Since many of these storms will produce heavy rain, flash flood watches are up for big areas of southern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, northern Mississippi and western Tennessee.

These areas had severe flooding earlier this month, and they're still swamps from all that previous rain, so it won't take much of a downpour to set off new flooding.

Thursday the threat of severe weather, again including tornadoes, high winds, big hail and flooding, extends from Indiana, through the Tennessee Valley and down to the Gulf Coast.

Right now it looks like Mississippi and western Tennessee are under the greatest threat, but tornadoes can occur anywhere tomorrow from Indiana to Alabama.

Friday, the risk shifts more to the Southeast, with a zone from the Florida Panhandle, through Georgia into South Carolina at the greatest risk of rough weather.






Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Snow Now On The Ground Northern Vermont To Melt Instantly, But....

My weather watching companions Tonks (tan coast)
and Jackson (in black) measure the snow that fell
on our St. Albans, Vermont yard overnight.
Looks like about 0.7 inches, the pups report.  
As expected, there's a bit of snow on the ground in much of northern Vermont this Tuesday morning.

It's windy and chilly and will stay that way all day. But there is some sun coming, except possibly in the northern high elevations, and especially around Jay Peak.

Temperatures just above freezing will melt most of the snow today, and a strong warm spell this week will make spring resume.

However, there's a horrible, midwinter style cold wave coming and that will really interrupt spring for a few days, starting Saturday or Saturday night.

After today's blustery weather and a seasonably chilly night tonight, Wednesday will be pleasant, with temperatures getting up to near 50 degrees under sunny skies.

Thursday morning, a warm front comes through and temperatures will probably get into the very mild 60s by afternoon across most of Vermont. Showers will come in from the west later in the day and continue into Friday.

It will remain very mild Thursday night, with temperatures staying above 50 in most places, and getting well into the 50s Friday.

Normally I would say this is a good thing. It will encourage plants to grow, the grass to turn green and start diminish the March blahs and browns that we have now.

However, that cold wave coming in looks bad, and there are signs that it will last a bit longer than I originally thought.

How cold? Temperatures Sunday and Monday afternoon likely won't get above freezing in most of northern Vermont, and lows Monday night will get into the single digits and low teens across most of the Green Mountain State. It's even possible, if the skies clear and the winds die down, that temperatures could flirt with zero in the coldest hollows.

This forecast is incredibly cold for April. Maybe not coldest ever, but still impressive. For the record, the coldest temperature on record in Vermont in April was 12 below in Bloomfield, April 1, 1923. In Burlington, the coldest April temperature on record was 2 above on April 7, 1972.

I had anticipated an early end to the cold beginning Tuesday, but now some computer models suggest a reinforcing shot of cold air, at least as chilly as Sunday's blast, could come in on Tuesday. That's still uncertain, but ominious for those who want spring.

I'm not sure what I should do about all the daffodils and other plants coming up in my St. Albans, Vermont weather yard.

Should I mulch the hell out of them? That's a lot of work, since I have a zillion daffodils coming up. Or should I take my chances and hope they survive.

I don't like these extremes, but I guess it's the price we pay for such an extremely warm winter and early spring.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Fail Video Proves Weather Can Be A Really Challenge. And A Jokester

This dog is unnecessarily dog paddling through
not very deep floodwaters 
One of Fail Army's YouTube videos focuses one of their fail compiliations on the weather.

Yes, as the video that was dropped on March 1 attests, the weather can be at times difficult, to say the least.

Some of my favorites you'll see in the video below are the guy challenged severely by the sloping, slick ice driveway, the cat trying to claw its way out of a snow-blocked doorway, and the army of trash cans descending a hill during a flash flood.

I think my favorite, around 6:43 in, and you'll see more yourself, is the guy carrying the dog in his arms as he walks through ankle deep flood water.

When he walks, the dog, sensing the water three feet below him, does the dog paddle. When the guy stops walking, the dog stops "swimming." It's hysterical.

Here's the whole video:

VERY Different Weather Every Day This Week As Weather Pattern Gets Confused

Daffodil shoots continue to get bigger and taller in my
St. Albans, Vermont garden, but will they get nipped
badly when midwinter cold briefly returns next Sunday?  
I hope you enjoyed your Easter Sunday in Vermont as it was gorgeous. Sunshine, with temperatutes around 60 degrees,-- what could be better in late March?

I found myself doing yard work in shorts and a t-shirt here at my weather geek headquarters up in St. Albans, which was nice.

When I took the dogs out to do their business before dawn, the sky was moonlit and it was mild and breezy, quite nice.

Don't get used to it. Although there might be a brief break of nice weather midweek, the weather is going to change dramatically day to day.

There's something for everyone in this forecast. Plus, there's something ominious next weekend for any early season spring plants that might have sprun up.

 Let's go day to day.

TODAY: That early morning moonlight is a thing of the past as clouds quickly covered the sky this morning as a storm approaches from the south and west. Rain will cover the state during the day, but luckily it won't come down particularly hard. Winds could get gusty from the south at times, especially in the Champlain Valley.

Temperatures today will be mostly in the mid to upper 40s -- chillier than on Easter but still not bad for late March.

TUESDAY: An unpleasant, interesting day. That storm bringing today's rain will be departing toward Maritime Canada and strengthening. Meanwhile, high pressure will be approaching from the Great Lakes.

The two systems will be squeezing up against each other forming what us weather geeks call a tight pressure gradient. Basically, the air pressure will be increasing sharply from northeast to southwest across our area.

For all the non-weather geeks, all this means is there's going to be a strong northwest wind on Tuesday. Winds will probably gust to 40 mph in many areas, and 50 mph along and east of the Green Mountains.

Also, snow. Did I say snow? That northwest wind will have a fair amount of moisture with it. And cold air, since it's coming from the northwest and all. Valleys, especially across the northern half of Vermont will probably get a slushing coating to a wet two inches

Higher elevations are in for two to five inches. The snow showers will tend to wane during the afternoon, tapering off last along the western slopes of the Green Mountains -- probably not until evening there.

WEDNESDAY: Probably the nicest day of the week. That high pressure I mentioned coming in from the west will be nearly overhead by Wednesday. After a cold start with lows in the upper teens to mid 20s, temperatures will get up to around 50 degrees.  That pressure gradient will be gone, so winds will be kinda on the light side.

THURSDAY: Warm and increasingly wet. A squirt of mild, damp air is coming up from the south ahead of the next storm system. Temperatures could easily reach 60 degrees Thursday as clouds increase and showers break out during the day.

Thursday night looks wet but very mild for this time of year, with temperatures not dropping below 50 degrees. (Normal HIGH temperatures this time of year are at or a little below 50. )

FRIDAY:  Still mild and showery, but looking like it might turn cooler later in the day. Temperatures before the cool weather arrives will be well into the 50s

SATURDAY: A transition day as we temporarily head back toward mid-winter, believe it or not. Hard to say this far out, but it looks like there will be some rain, then snow showers around. Best guess is highs might reach the 40s, but falling later.

SUNDAY: Welcome back to winter as a February style blast of Arctic air slams us. Temperatures probably won't even get above freezing Sunday, and I imagine there will probably be snow showers around. Sunday night could even feature near record cold.

I'm not sure yet, but it's possible we could get near record lows in the single numbers Sunday night. A couple below zero readings in the cold spots aren't out of the question.

BEYOND SUNDAY: It'll begin to warm up, as it will be April after all. Details on how much of a warm up, when, and whether rain or snow will accompany the milder trend are all question marks.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Wowed By Wet Microbursts. Stay With Me Here!

Photographer Peter Thompson captured these
images of a wet microburst in
Queensland, Australia. You can see
how these things look like scary "rain bombs"
It's Easter Sunday, and the nation is being blessed with largely uneventful weather today.

Oh sure, there are trouble spots. There could be some severe thunderstorms in and near Indiana today. Flash flood watches are up for parts of the Gulf Coast, and there's high wind alerts in the Desert Southwest.  

But luckily, there are pretty much no epic storms or extremes to pester us today.

This lack of activity gets my mind wandering a bit, and since we are getting into the spring and summer severe thunderstorm season, I happened to find some stuff on something called "wet microbursts" today.

Wet microbursts are an underreported player in severe thunderstorm destruction, outgunned by photogenic tornadoes, hail and lightning.

These wet microbursts are usually hidden within curtains of rain, but they are responsible for a large share of damage caused by severe thunderstorms.  There are a couple of great videos at the bottom of this post that do manage to capture the drama of wet microbursts.

There's no particular "wet microburst alley" in the United States where they are most common. They can happen practically anywhere, and have raised havoc pretty much everywhere.

Strong updrafts in severe thunderstorm suspend large amounts of raindrops and hailstones up in the the core of the storm.

After awhile, the updraft in the storm weakens, and is no longer capable of holding all that stuff up there. Suddenly, then, all that rain and hail plummets to the ground really fast. 

Where it hits the ground, there's an incredible blast of wind, incredibly torrential rain and often hail. When the gush hits the ground, the wind blows outward from ground zero in very strong gusts. There's always a zone of damage, maybe two miles across, with the ground zero spot understandably having the worst damage.

Winds can easily and far exceed 100 mph in a microburst, so they can be as destructive as tornadoes. That's why you shouldn't relax when there's "only" a severe thunderstorm warning, instead of a tornado warning.  You don't want to be caught outside in a microburst.

Incredible amounts of rain usually accompany wet microbursts, so flash flooding is often a problem with these things, too. Wet microbursts are basically violent rain bombs.

You often don't get as much lead time in a warning about a microburst as you often would with a tornado. Wet microbursts often develop suddenly. Forecasters will often know 12 hours or more in advance that the weather is favorable for microbursts, but are usually not able to tell exactly where they will happen until just before or during the event.

Weather that is conducive to these microbursts is when it is hot and humid near the Earth's surface, where we are, and it's chilly, windy and quite dry in the middle layers of the atmosphere high overhead.

Last August, storm chaser and photographer Brian Snider captured on a really cool video a destructive wet microburst around Tucson, Arizona. Here's some time lapse videos of it and a narrator explains what's going on:




Proving that you don't want to be outdoors in a microburst and that destructive microbursts often happen well outside of tornado alley, here's a security camera view of a July, 2014 wet microburst in the northern New Hampshire town of Littleton:

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Second Destructive Hail Storm In Week Trashed Texas Few Days Ago

Hail crashed through windows
of this house in Plano, Texas, via
@jules_baby28 on Twitter.
Click on image to make it
bigger and easier to see.  
Texas is having a hell of a time with hail.

As noted a few posts ago, the Fort Worth area really got hammered by hail about a week ago.

Another hailstorm struck parts of northern Texas, again around the Dallas-Fort Worth area Wednesday night.

This second storm Wednesday night might have been at least as bad as the earlier one.

Insurance Journal said the March 16-17 Texas hailstorm caused an estimated $600 million in insured losses, and Wednesday's storm, which focused especially on Plano and Wylie, probably caused similar losses, or worse.

Countless cars, houses, apartment buildings and businesses lost windows as the hail smashed through the glass during the storms.

A Walmart Supercenter in Wylie, Texas is closed for awhile as workers repair at least 30 skylights trashed by the hail on the roof of the immense store, says television station WFAA.

Tornadoes get most of the attention during the nation's spring storm season but destructive hail is much more common and widespread. Supercell thunderstorms don't always produce tornadoes and if they do, they're often weak.

Cars damaged by hail Wednesday in Plano, Texas
Photo by David Woo/Dallas Morning News  
However, these supercells very often produce large, damaging hail.

According to the National Storm Damage Center, hail on average causes at least $1 billion in damage in the United States yearly. Some years - and with all the destruction in Texas -- are far worse than that $1 billion.

A single April, 2001 hail storm around Kansas City, Missouri caused about $2 billion in damage.

The spring storm season is young, so we're surely going to hear more reports of terrible hail before the year is over.

Here's a frightening security camera video of Wednesday's hail in Richardson, Texas. Bet you're glad you weren't out in this:




Here's another security camera view of Wednesday night's hail chaos in Dallas:

Friday, March 25, 2016

Will Hansen Climate Apocalypse Bombshell Come To Pass?

Well regarded climate scientist James Hansen has done
climate research and the results are very frightening.
How seriously should we take this work?  
James Hansen, that famous climatologist, has come out with a bombshell study that suggests that sea levels might rise much, MUCH faster sooner than expected due to global warming, and coastal cities around the world could drown by the end of this century.

He actually released a draft of the study about a year ago. But it has since been peer reviewed, giving it much more - but not complete - credence.

Hansen says the team of researchers he led concluded that the sea levels would rise by six to 15 feet by the end of this century, which is as much as 10 times faster than most scientists up until now have been predicting.

Hansen also says climate change will, this century, create frequent, huge storms, like Superstorm Sandy writ large. These storms would largely spin up in the mid-latitudes, were most of us live.  

Some publications have been comparing Hansen's scenario to a "Day After Tomorrow" movie style climate apocalypse, but I definitely wouldn't go that far.

WHAT HANSEN SAYS

Like most scientific studies done by very smart people like Hansen, this latest one is a pretty technical.

Basically, though, he's saying that rapid melting now underway from ice caps in places like Greenland and Antarctica will get even faster.

In a New York Times article about Hansens research, the paper reports that fresh water from the melting ice caps would flow into the oceans. That would slow down or maybe even stop some of the vast ocean currents that redistribute heat around the planet so that there aren't terrible imbalances between hot and cold regions of the world.

The colder water coming off the melting ice caps would also cause warmer water to sink further down, which would melt the ice caps from below, making all the melting faster. This "positive feedback" would make everything even worse.

Tthe ocean currents that would normally pump excess heat to the north where it dissipates. If the ocean currents weaken or disappear, something else would have to take over to stop the imbalance a too-wide difference in temperature between the tropics and poles.

Storms do that now, and always have, with or without climate change. But if the imbalance is bigger, you'd need bigger storms to correct the imbalance.  You'd get incredibly huge storms, ones like immense tempests that happened 120,000 years ago, when the world warmed due to natural processes.

Some scientists see signs that the slowdown in ocean currents has already begun due to global warming and melting ice caps.

For instance, 2014 and 2015 were the warmest years on record for the Earth as a whole, at least since reliable records got going in the late 1800s.

But during this time, there's been a persistent patch of very chilly water and air in the North Atlantic, not far from Iceland. It's believed this might be caused by meltwater flowing into this region's waters from Greenland, and the slowing of a massive northeastward flowing warm ocean current that parallels the North American coastline and heads toward northern Europe.

OTHER SCIENTISTS REACT

Scientists who reviewed Hansen's work during its peer review process said the latest draft is much improved over last year's draft, and the results are plausible.

However, as Slate notes, this is only one study, and we'd want a lot of other scientists to take more, even deeper looks at the melting glaciers, the ocean currents and everything else to see whether Hansen's dire warnings make sense.

Many climate scientists are cautious about Hansen's study. As the Washington Post reported, Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University climate scientist who isn't exactly shy about warning about the consequences of climate change, is hesitant about Hansen's work.

Mann wonders whether Hansen's research overestimates the amount of meltwater flowing into the oceans from the thawing glaciers, and questions whether Hansen fears that the ocean curents could slow or stop are overblown.

Still, as Mann and many other climate scientists note, Hansen has a history of being particularly precient about climate change in the past.

Hansen, a former NASA scientist is most famous for telling a Congressional committee in 1988 about the threats from climate change, and that, probably more than anything else, put global warming front and center in national and international discourse.

All this debate over Hansen's research is one of the frustrating things about climate change science. Every serious scientist acknowledges human-induced warming is occuring. But there's still considerable debate over exactly how this will unfold in the future.

That's to be expected. Even the smartest scientists can't with 100 percent accurate predict the future. But they can keep studying, and maybe this will confirm or deny Hansen's scary research. Even if this further work doesn't give us clear answers on this, it will increase our knowledge about the upcoming effects of climate change.

More knowledge is precisely what we need.












ast summer, James Hansen—the pioneer of modern climate science—pieced together a research-based revelation: a little-known feedback cycle between the oceans and massive ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland might have already jump-started an exponential surge of sea levels. That would mean huge levels of sea level rise will happen sooner—much sooner than expected. Hansen’s best estimate was 2 to 5 meters (6–15 feet) by the end of the century: five to 10 times faster than mainstream science has heretofore predicted.
The result was so important that Hansen didn’t want to wait. So he called a press conference and distributed a draft of his findings before they could be peer-reviewed—a very nontraditional approach for a study with such far-reaching consequence. Now, after months of intense and uncharacteristically public scrutiny by the scientific community, the findings by Hansen and his 18 co-authors have passed formal peer review and were published Tuesday in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
That’s bad news for those of us rooting for a stable planet. With Hansen’s paper now through peer review, its dire conclusions are difficult to ignore. And the scientific community, many of whom were initially wary of Hansen’s paper when it came out this summer, is starting to take serious note.
In an email to Slate, Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist who was skeptical of the initial draft, calls the final study “considerably improved.” Mottram, who specializes in studying the Greenland ice sheet, said “the scenario they sketch out is implausible, though perhaps not impossible … it’s frankly terrifying.”
Richard Alley, a key figure in the polar research community, also gave the Hansen study cautious praise. “It usefully reminds us that large and rapid changes are possible,” Alley said in an email, and that “uncertainties are clearly loaded on the “bad” side.” Alley stressed, though, that the Hansen result was only a single study, and wasn’t detailed enough to be used as a firm prediction.
Hansen and his co-authors describe a world that may quickly start to spin out of control if humans keep burning fossil fuels at close to our current rate. “It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization,” the study reads. And given the assumed accelerated pace of melting, all this could happen just decades from now, not centuries.
The world Hansen and his colleagues describe reads like a sci-fi plot synopsis—and it’s now officially part of the scientific canon (though peer review doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a paper is infallible). If Hansen and his colleagues are correct, this paper is likely one of the most important scientific contributions in history—and a stark warning to world governments to speed up the transition to carbon-free energy.
Hansen recorded a State of the Union response-style video address to accompany the paper, and, hoo boy, don’t watch it if you were hoping to have an upbeat day (it is also somewhat technical):

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Springtime In Denver: Big Blizzard, As Usual

Wednesday's blizzard in Denver. Photo by Aaron
Ontiveroz, Denver Post.  
It was 70 degrees and beautiful around Denver Colorado on Tuesday.

However, anyone who even glimpsed at the news Wednesday saw it was a different story yesterday.

A blizzard pummeled the Denver area, and most of eastern Colorado for that matter, reducing visibility to zero for hours.

According to the Denver Post, the city's International Airport shut down. So did area Interstates and highways. Up to 190,000 lost electricity amid the heavy, wet snow and strong winds.

March and sometimes April are usually the snowiest months of the year in places like western South Dakota and the eastern halves of Wyoming and Colorado, so this snowstorm wasnt totally a fluke at all.

In the early spring, the weather pattern tends to shift toward one in which strong storms form to the lee of the southern Rockies and move out into the central and northern Plains. These are the storms that cause all those tornado outbreaks in the Midwest and South this time of year.

Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota are usually on the colder, northwestern flanks of these storms.

Very moist air comes up from the Gulf of Mexico, then gets caught up in the circulation of these storms. Low pressure systems spin counterclockwise, so the winds are from the east north of the storms.

 In places like eastern Colorado and Wyoming, these moist east winds are forced to rise, to follow the terrain, which also rises from east to west in this part of the country.  When air rises, it cools. Moisture condenses into raindrops, or if it's cold enough, snow flakes. Then you get these whopping spring snowstorms in Colorado and Wyoming, and in South Dakota's Black Hills.

The weather there is extremely variable this time of year, too. Hence the 70 degrees followed by the blizzard.

They do get a lot of snowstorms this time of year in places like Denver and Rapid City, but the snow tends to melt fast, too.

This particular storm is heading east, and has caused a lot of snow in a stripe through Nebraska, southeastern South Dakota, northern Iowa, southern Minnesota and on into Wisconsin and Michigan. 

Winter storm warnings are up for the northern tip of Maine, too, because of heavy snow and ice anticipated with this storm. Various freezing rain and winter weather advisories are up for central and northern New England because of this storm.

Here's some scenes from the blizzard Wednesday:


Snow Then Freezing Rain: Icky "Spring" Day And Night in Vermont

Web cam along Interstate 89 in Georgia, Vermont shows light
snow, some sticking to the road, at about 8:15 a.m this
morning. Careful on the roads!  
Quick update on the wintry spring weather today.

Light snow has broken out across much of northern Vermont. It's very light, but the temperature has fallen below freezing, even in places where it was still a little above freezing before dawn.

That means there will be slick spots on roads this morning.

As expected, the snow will pick up in intensity later this morning, just as it's going over to sleet, freezing rain and rain. All in all an ugly day in Vermont.

Even with the thick cloud cover, the sun angle is much higher in the sky than it is in midwinter, so some of the sun's warmth can penetrate the clouds a bit. That means roads and sidewalks won't be as icy as they normally would on a day with mixed precipitation in the winter.

Still watch out, though.

Nighttime is a different story, though, since there's no sun. Along and east of the Green Mountains, it will stay at or below freezing much of tonight.  Although the precipitation might taper off for a time later this afternoon and evening, it will pick up again overnight.

Plus, there will be no sun to warm pavement, so ice will form just about anywhere.

That means there will be some ice gathering on roads, driveways and sidewalks, so you'll want to be careful.  A freezing rain advisory is in effect for all of the northern three quarters of Vermont except the immediate Champlain Valley and Rutland County from this evening until early Friday morning.

It doesn't seem as if there will be enough ice accumulation to bring down trees and power lines, so that's a good thing.

It should be just above freezing all night in the Champlain Valley, so just a cold rain is likely there.

Temperatures should warm up early Friday morning across the state, ending the ice threat. Rain will end during the day Friday, setting us up for a pretty nice Easter weekend.

There will be a fair amount of sun, with near normal highs in the 40s Saturday, and somewhat above normal highs in the 50s Sunday.

More rain looks like it wants to return Monday.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Scary, Fiery Afternoon In North Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas

A huge wildfire burns in southern Kansas Wednesday.
Photo by Shardaa Gray/WSN  
The warnings came true.

Amid incredibly dry, windy conditions, destructive fires broke out in north Texas and other areas of the southern Plains Wednesday.

Television station KFDA in Amarillo said at least two homes were destroyed by fire in Randall County, Texas.

Parts of the northeastern sections of Amarillo were evacuated due to a wildfire, but people were allowed to return home.

The worst by late afternoon seemed to be around Pampa, where the city's hospital, some hotels, a Wal-Mart and several businesses were evacuated as a precaution.

Parts of Interstate 40 and other highways were also closed in the area due to the fires, KFDA reported.

Television station KFOR in Oklahoma City reported several wildfires burning across Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, television station KSN in Wichita, Kansas said a huge wildfire burned through 75 square miles along the Oklahoma/Kansas border.

Drier, cooler, more humid weather is expected Thursday in the region, which will reduce the fire risk then.


Scary: Roof Blows Off Russian Apartment Building In Strong Winds

The roof of a five story apartment building crashes
to the ground after strong winds ripped it
off this week. Add caption 
Terrible winds gusting to hurricane force swept parts of Russia amid a strong storm in recent days.

In Dudinka, Siberia, Russia, the gales tore the roof from a five story apartment building, and people in a neighboring building caught that on video.

Needless to say, you can hear they are pretty scared. After all, is their building next.

They then laugh with nervous relief when they saw the debris would not hit their building.

There were no reports of serious injuries or deaths with this incident, which is good news.

Here's the video:

Storms, Wind, Snow, Fires: Active Weather Day Across The Nation Today

My St. Albans, Vermont property was winter white
again this morning and buds on the lilac were collecting
snow as winter temporarily returns.  
If you like a lot of activity in your weather, today's a good day for you.

Huge areas of the country are experiencing strong winds, fire dangers, and a little to the north a winter storm.

Severe storms are possible in the South, too. Very few people are going to have what most consider a "nice" early spring day.

For my Vermont readers, there's a Green Mountain State specific summary further down in this post.

THE SET UP:

A strong storm was getting organized over Colorado and Kansas early this morning. It was already snowing hard in parts of Colorado and the wind has been howling since yesterday in New Mexico, parts of Texas and surrounding states.

The storm will consolidate and move fairly slowly toward the northeast, ending up somewhere in southern Quebec or perhaps far northern New England on Friday.

It's a classic spring storm, with a stripe of heavy snow to the north of it, severe weather to the southeast of the storm center and lots of wind swirling around the whole thing.

So yes, it's a classic spring storm, but don't expect a lot of classic sunny, pleasant spring weather in much of the country over the next few days.

WIND AND FIRE

An unbelievably large area of the nation covering much of New Mexico, northwest Texas, the western half of Oklahoma, much of Kansas and southeastern Colorado is under a high wind warning today.
From television station KJRH: Somebody set
a small pile of debris on fire and strong
winds blew embers into this Tulsa house.
The resulting fire destoryed it. 

It was so windy in New Mexico Tuesday that snow plows had to be called out to clear tumbleweeds from at least one highway.

These strong winds south of the storm center, combined with warm temperatures and especially very low humidity, is raising the risk of wildfires.

There were some wildfires already in Oklahoma Tuesday.

Plus a homeowner in Tulsa who either didn't hear or ignored warnings not to do any outdoor burns set a small pile of debris on fire. That fire spread quickly to his house, destroying it, television station KJRH reported.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center says there is an extreme risk of rapidly spreading erratic wildfires today from southeastern New Mexico, through much of northern Texas, central Oklahoma and eastern Kansas.

Strong southwesterly winds south of that storm center I talked about are coming right off the super dry southwestern U.S. deserts, so you can imagine why this is a problem.

SNOWSTORM

A blizzard warning is up for much of eastern Colorado today, as winds gusting over 50 mph propel heavy snow into huge drifts. Already, we're getting reports of highway closures in that area.

Winter storm warnings are up for much of Wyoming, too, and in a long stripe from most of Nebraska all the way through Wisconsin and much of Michigan.

Through Nebraska, southeastern South Dakota and northern Iowa, four to 12 inches of snow is forecast, along with strong winds today and tonight.

Wisconsin is in for up to 14 inches of snow by Thursday, and the northern half of Michigan's lower peninsula is up for heavy wet snow, and up to a quarter inch of freezing rain, which could cause problems with falling tree branches and power lines.

Snow and mixed precipitation will spread into northern New York and northern New England Thursday.

TORNADOES AND SEVERE STORMS

As is common with this type of spring storm, severe thunderstorms and maybe a few tornadoes are a good best southeast of the storm center.

Today and tonight, the threat will extend from northeastern Texas up through western Arkansas, Missouri and western Illinois, says NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. 

This won't be the world's biggest and most extensive tornado outbreak, but if you live in this neck of the woods, you oughta keep those weather radios handy so you can hear warnings today.

On Wednesday, the threat of severe storms and a few tornadoes will move into Alabama, and parts of Tennessee and Mississippi.

VERMONT:

Snow dusted the far northern reaches of Vermont, as expected late last night and early this morning.

There was a half inch of new, slushy snow at my  house in St. Albans, in the northwest corner of the state. But just 25 miles or so to the south, in Burlington, it was just light rain.
Daffodil shoots shivering in the snow in
my St. Albans, Vermont yard this morning.  

This is just the opening salvo in what will be a messy few days.  

A cold front was slipping south through northern Vermont early this morning, which is the cause of this light snow and rain.

A batch of cold air is moving south from Quebec, so it will be a lot colder in Vermont today than yesterday.

A few places near the Canadian border will barely make it to the freezing mark. Most of us will hold in the 30s today.

This cold air sets the stage for when that cold front starts working its way back north as a warm front Thursday.

That storm out west that I talked about above will ride along this front, and there will be a lot of moisture working north.

That means the precipitation coming along will be heavier than the light stuff this morning. The chilly air from that cold front will mean the precipitation will start as snow late tonight, and transition to sleet and freezing rain during Thursday.

Eventually, by later Thursday or Thursday night, the ice will turn to a cold but non-freezing rain.

The changeover to plain rain will take longest east of the Green Mountains, and especially in the Northeast Kingdom. Those areas have the greatest risk of having to deal with icy roads and some accumulations of snow, sleet and ice.

I'd say up to three inches of the gloppy mix could pile up in the Northeast Kingdom.

Temperatures will warm up Friday as the storm passes by, especially in the southern half of Vermont, where temperatures could get up into the 50s.

Some areas of northern Vermont could get up to an inch of rain (and melted snow and ice) I imagine rivers will rise because of this, but it doesn't look like there will be much if any flooding.

We'll have a quiet and fairly mild Easter weekend (highs mostly in the upper 40s or low 50s) and then more storminess is due by early next week, as it looks now.

It's too soon to say what kind of storm or how big it will be, but at this point it looks like it'll be mostly rain.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Extreme Global Heat In February Not The End Of The World, But.......

Hot times across the world in February, the most
above average warm month on record  
As worldwide temperature and climate assessments for February's global temperatures, jaws have been dropping among the climate scientists, meteorologists and weather geeks of the world.

The world was off the charts much warmer than normal, far more above average than any other month in recorded history. This follows December and January, which also set records for the greatest departures above normal.  

However, February was just ridiculous. February was a bit over 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal over the globe. Two degrees doesn't sound like all that much. After all, do you really notice the difference between, say,  55 and 57 degrees?

But a two degree departure from normal for a month distributed over the whole world is just insane and nothing close to that has been observed before.

February was also, incredibly, the tenth consecutive month a global high temperature record was set. As the Associated Press reported, government scientists sputtered that the wildly high temperatuers were "astronomical" or "staggering." "strange," or "insane."

The departure from normal in the Arctic was especially off the charts. You know you're in trouble with extreme warmth when the mapmakers at NOAA run out of colors to depict how hot it was in parts of the Arctic in February.

Scientists don't usually use huge superlatives like this, so you know something is up.

Here's Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb, who, according to the Associated Press, doesn't get too, too excited about new high temperatures being broken. It's been happening all the time, she's used to it.

But this is different. Says Cobb, quoted by the AP:

"When I look at the new February 2016 temperatures, I feel like I'm looking at something out of a sic-fi movie. In a way we are: It's like someone plucked a value off a graph from 2030 and stuck it on a graph of present temperatures. It is a portent of things to come, and it is sobering that such temperature extremes are already on our doorstep."

February temperatures were incredible, for sure. But before you panic, the world is going to temporarily cool off a little, and soon. A strong El Nino, that periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean looks like it's about to start waning, as it usually does after several month.

El Ninos make global temperatures go up, whether or not there's global warming. For the record, there IS global warming, so the combination of El Nino and climate change led to these worldwide heat records to be broken so spectacularly.

Climate change will keep happening, but El Nino might go away, at least for while. It always waxes and wanes.

A diminishing El Nino will allow the Earth's temperature to at least temporarily start easing back. Still, with global temperatures elevated from fossil fuel, don't expect a huge global cooldown.

Many climate observers are saying that we'll once again start getting months that are not the absolute warmest on record. Still well above normal, but not always record heat. This slight global cooling will probably start later this year and continue into 2017.

Of course, we can't be absolutely certain of that, but that's how it looks.

However, with climate change, you have to look at the long term trend, not one or two years. There was previously an enormous global temperature spike back in 1998 with a huge El Nino. Back then, we were told it was a glimpse of what the future might hold.

That future arrived, roughly after 2008. Temperatures between 2008 or so and 2013 were consistently close to the 1998 level.

Then, starting in 2014, global temperatures spiked again, peaking in 2015 and the first few months of this year it turns out.

Now we have another glimpse of the future. I've seen it where I live in St. Albans, Vermont. I know the little dot on the map where I live, St. Albans, is totally unrepresentative of the Earth as a whole.

However, I can't under play how bizarre the weather has been up here in northwestern Vermont over the past few months.

I wore shorts and a t-shirt outdoors all afternoon on Christmas Eve. In Vermont. In February, I dug up some soil to create new perennial bids. No snow, and the ground was totally not frozen. Unheard of in Vermont for February.

My daffodils and day lilies started coming up during the second week in March. Never seen that before either. But I've never seen the temperature reach 70 degrees in the beginning of March, either.

Will this past winter be a glimpse of what things will be like five, ten, fifteen years down the road? It's a distinct possibility.

So Cobb, the Georgia Tech climate scientist is right. We got a glimpse of our future and it's probably coming sooner than many of us think.

The cumulative effects of this mess is what really bothers me. Even as the global temperatures likely cool temporarily as we head toward 2017, world wide temperatures will almost certainly remain much higher than we were used to in the 20th century.

That leads to more climate extremes. We'll continue a trend of heat waves that kills thousands of people over the course of a month extreme droughts that cause many more deaths, or extreme storms that do the same, and on and on.

Meanwhile, the spike in global heat this winter also has policy makers questioning whether the world can adhere to the United Nation's goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celcius above 20th centry normals.

It this winter's warmth is a sign that global warming is accelerating, and even if not, policy makers with new analyses say we probably won't be able to cut our use of fossil fuel fast enough to keep the warming below 2 degree Celcius reports the Washington Post.

The Post says rewewable energy sources are increasing exponentially, but rising populations and living standards mean that fossil fuels will continue to be in high demand well into this century.

By the way, a bit of a feedback loop is probably contributing to this winter's high temperatures. The Arctic has had record low sea ice extent all winter. That means more heat is released into the atmosphere, keeping the extreme warmth going, especially in the Arctic.

That, in turn, means sea ice won't form like it normally does, and it will start to melt sooner, and that will lead to more relative warmth coming from the Arctic Ocean into the atmosphere, etc. etc.

Yeah, as I said, it will cool down a bit soon because of natural factors. But the overall trend upward shows no sign of stopping or slowing over the long haul. Be prepared to continue seeing a new climate that you and I and the rest of the world are totally unaccustomed to.

Winter in Spring From Dakotas To New England

Is is shaping up to be one of those winter during
spring types of years?  Forecast for this week
isn't too promising.  
During the course of our recently ended record warm winter in New England, I was kind of afraid winter would arrive just as spring does.

And sure enough, it's happening.  

Eastern New England got through a nor'easter yesterday morning that left several inches of snow. It melted rapidly in most places across southern New England, anyway but still.

Next, up, northern New England for wintry weather. Actually that expected snowy or icy or icky weather extends in a broad arc from northeastern Colorado through parts of South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and then on into northern New England.

That next storm we've been talking about gathering forces in the central Rockies and western Plains is indeed doing so, and will spread snow across those central and northern Plains areas I just mentioned.

Here in the Northeast, a wavering front connecting to that storm out west is setting up shop over and near New England later today.

That will be the focus of several days of occaional snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain. across northern New York, and much of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The more north you go, the more likely you'll see snow or ice.

Once you get into southern New England, it'll be mostly a cold rain.

In northern New England, the first salvo will come tonight in the form of wet snow. It won't come down all that hard, so there will maybe be an inch of slush in the valleys and up to three inches in the higher elevations

The front will sort of waver north and south Wednesday through Friday as the Midwest storm rides along it, heading east.

In a zone from the Adirondacks, through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, it's still hard to say who will get rain, who will get snow, or ice, or how much and where. It depends on where the weather front is set up at any given time, and how much chilly air is bleeding south from a cold air mass over Quebec.

But the fact there will be a strong temperature contrast between, say Montreal, where it will be below freezing, and New York City, which will flirt with 70 degrees, makes me nervous.

Often, when there's such a contrast, precipitation can be pretty heavy. Some computer models crank out up to two inches of rain or water equivalent over northern New York and northern Vermont over the next few days.

If some areas in this zone get mostly snow or ice, it will be troublesome. Luckily, it's late March, and chances are pretty good that most areas even in the north will change to rain at least occasionally, which would minimize the effects.

But of course I can't guarantee the plain rain. There's a chance some areas could stay snow or ice through most of the time Tuesday night through Friday.  The heaviest precipitation looks like it will come along Thursday into the first half of Friday as the main storm system trudges through.

We'll probably get a break in the weather over the Easter weekend in New England before possibly more storminess arrives early next week.

And my fears of winter during spring continue. There are strong signals that the first week of April at least will be quite cold and wintry from the northern Plains through New England.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Fire And Snow, Whiplash Weather, One Extreme To Another, In Central Plains

To say the weather in the Plains states is erratic is an understatement. Especially so far this winter.
Looked like a lovely late afternoon Monday amid 70 degree
warmth in this webcam image from Yankton, South Dakota
but the area around the city was under a fire alert
due to low humidity and strong winds. And
a winter storm is likely Wednesday,.  

Especially this week. For instance, my in-laws in Yankton, in southeastern South Dakota have somehow managed to find themselves simultaneously under an extreme fire danger alert and a winter storm watch.

Those two things seem mutually exclusive, because it is by definition not normally dry during a winter storm, but it's happening.   

Actually, out ahead of the upcoming storm, it's remarkably warm, windy and very, very dry in the central Plains, hence the fire alerts. 

Then, a storm will start getting its act together Wednesday, probably over Kansas or Nebraska. It will strengthen pretty fast and draw cold air down from Canada. 

That's where the winter storm watch comes in. The wintry weather will extend from southeastern South Dakota, through northern Iowa and southern Minnesota, into central Wisconsin and a good chunk of the lower peninsula of Michigan.

No winter weather alerts are in effect in New England, at least not yet, but this storm is going to cause mixed precipitation, at least off and on in northern New England, Tuesday night through Friday, so be alert there.

As that storm strengthens develops over the Rockies tomorrow, then more intensely over the central Plains Wednesday, very dry, strong winds will sweep from New Mexico to Kansas.

NOAA forecasters are very, very concerned about extreme fire weather in parts of New Mexico, Texas and western Oklahoma Tuesday:


A significant fire weather event should unfold during the day, with the potential for rapid fire spread quite high. Additionally, overnight RH (relative humidity) recovery will be relativelky poor over parts of eastern New Mexico and the Texas/Oklahoma panhandles, keeping fire weather concerns elevated/critical through much of the night."

In other words, there's a high, high risk of some sort of wildfire disaster, possibly involving lots of homes up in flames, in that region.

Southeast of the developing storm, some severe thunderstorms, and maybe a tornado or two, could break out around northeastern Texas, eastern Oklahoma and parts of Arkansas.

Yeah, there's some extreme weather out there over the next couple of days.  

Nor'easter Misses Vermont But Winter's Returning To Green Mountain State

New England snow on  a budding lilac bush
this morning, via @weathernut27 on Twitter. 
You can wipe that smug look off your faces, denizens of Vermont.

Yeah, the nor'easter missed most of Vermont last night. It snowed or is snowing in much of eastern New England from that storm, but not in Vermont.

Back to regularly scheduled spring, right? Aren't we the lucky ones?

Not so fast.

There's more weather on the way, and it's looking a bit bleak for springtime enthusiasts in Vermont this week.

Oh sure, today and much of Tuesday won't be so bad. Daytime temperatures will only be a little below normal --- in upper 30s and low 40s generally -- and there won't be any precipitation to speak of.

Then, starting Tuesday night, it goes downhill. Light rain and light snow will break out in northern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire Tuesday evening. It won't be that big a deal, especially in southern areas, and in the southern and central Champlain Valley.

But a light coating of snow is likely in other areas of the state, with up to four inches in the mountains.

That's just the opening salvo.

A weather front is still expected to set up just to the south of New England Wednesday, then slowly move northward through Thursday as a storm from the Midwest rides along this front.

With a cold high pressure system to the north, that means much of the precipitation will be an ugly mix - snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain.

This is especially true, it appears, the more north you go in the North Country, and this is precisely the area that missed out on the nor'easter.

I gave you the vague outline of the scenario this week, but there are lots of huge questions about how this is going to play out.

It all depends upon how that cold high pressure system to the north, the weather front to the south, and the storm from the Midwest interact. At this point, it looks like there are these three general scenarios:

If the high pressure really dominates, it might me hard for the moisture to really get far into the North Country, and the precipitation would be relatively light.

Or, the chilly high pressure might hold strong, but allow lots of moisture to flow north, giving us lots of snow and ice.

Or, the surge of warm moisture associated with the storm will overwhelm the chilly high pressure in Quebec, and we'll end up getting mostly rain in Vermont and surrounding areas.

Stay tuned for that.

This storm should depart later Friday, but then there are even bigger question marks for next weekend. Some computer models bring in high pressure and temperatures well into the 40s to near 50 next weekend -- not bad for March.

Other models bring in yet another storm, with another possibility of cold rain or mixed precipitation.

I'm beginning to wonder if we're starting to pay for our record warm winter. Is the other shoe dropping? Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

It's Game On Again For Nor'easter - For Some People Anyway

From Pivotal Weather, one forecast
for the unpredictable nor'easter tonight and tomorrow.
Pink zones depict the heaviest snow.  
One of the most frustrating storms to forecast I've seen in awhile is approaching New England now, and I'm sure it will give parts of eastern New England quite a bit of late season snow.

Prospects for snow have been on again, off again and then on again for parts of central New England, as computer forecasting models continue to struggle with how close to the coast the nor'easter will get.

How close to shore is important because that tells you how far inland the snow will get.

Some indications Thursday had it covering all of New England. By Saturday morning, it looked like the storm would be far enough off the coast to just graze eastern New England.

Now the predictions have swung somewhat closer to the coast, so more of New England, Long Island and southeastern New York could get snow.

Computer forecasting models generally don't predict  nor'easters well, especially in the spring. Still, its unusual to have this many questions about a snowstorm just 12 to 18 hours before it hits.

Yeah, happy first day of astronomical spring to you, too.

Expect some of the following to be wrong, but here's the general idea as of early Sunday morning.

Areas to the east and south of a New London, Connecticut to Boston, Massachusetts line look like they're in for six to 10 inches of snow, and winter storm warnings are up there.

The snow tonight and tomorrow morning will probably be heavy and wet, so there will be problems with broken trees and power lines in the winter storm zone. That's especially a concern because the storm will bring gusty winds, as most nor'easters do.

Out over the Cape and Islands, the snow might mix with  or change to rain, so there's a winter storm watch, not a more dire warning, due to the question marks.

Northern Connecticut and central Massachusetts are under a winter storm watch tonight and tomorrow.  It's possible the heavy snow could get that far west, but nobody is sure yet. They might get four to seven inches of snow.

There's still a lot of question marks about the New York City metro area, too. Just 12 hours before the start of the storm there early Sunday estimates ranged from a dusting of snow up to eight inches.

Eastern Long Island is under a winter storm warning, and most of the rest of Long Island is under a winter weather advisory. Nothing in New York City yet in terms of weather alerts, but stay tuned.

The northwestern flank of the storm will have a sharp cutoff between several inches of snow and nothing.

That line will between snow and pretty much nothing looks as if it will be somewhere from Albany, New York though southeastern Vermont and up through western New Hampshire.

But that forecast could be a bust, too. It's totally unclear to me whether the extent of the snow will be a little west, or a little east of the rough line we've drawn here.

If you're way up to the northwest, like in Burlington, Vermont or the Adirondacks, chances are pretty damn low you'll see any snow out of this. But there's a tiny, tiny chance even those areas could get a surprise light snow. But I doubt it.

Unfortunately, the forecast for New England after the storm departs Monday is also as clear as mud.

Some sort of weather front will set up much of the week, starting Tuesday night somewhere over or just south of New England. It'll eventually come north as a warm front Thursday night, maybe.

Moisture streaming from the south and rising up and over the stalled front, plus weather disturbances rippling along that front, appear to be poised to bring precipitation to most of New England

But it's totally unclear how much and what kind, especially north across Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and over in northern New York.

Expect it to be unsettled Tuesday night through Friday, with possible periods of snow, ice, rain, or all of the above during that time frame.

I have no frickin' clue how much accumulation of snow or ice will come during that time or if it rains, how much we'll get.

This time of year, though, in general, the chances of snow and ice increase during the night, and a mix or change to rain is more likely, but no guaranteed during daylight hours.

Most people, including myself, want a degree of certainty in their weather forecasts. We often get just that. Not this week. It's going to be a tough week to be a New England meteorologist.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

That Nor'easter? Never Mind, At Least For Most Of Us

All but perhaps southeastern New England look like
they'll probably miss out on scenes like this
Sunday night and Monday and early indications are
a potential nor'easter will miss much of the region.   
A lot of the computer forecasting models are finally getting their act together after days of uncertainty and are coming around to a consensus on that potential New England storm Sunday night and Monday.

The forecasting models' opinion on this system now? It's "Meh."

It appears the would-be nor'easter is going to be weaker and a bit further east than many had expected.

Usually, to get a good nor'easter going, you have to get great coordination between two disturbances in the atmosphere, one coming from the Gulf of Mexico, the other coming from the Great Lakes toward New England.

When these two systems dance perfectly, they combine to form a strong nor'easter. Weather geeks call this "phasing."

Not much phasing with this storm, it turns out, at least when it's still in New England. The system from the west is a slow poke, and won't get to New England in time to really hook up with energy coming from the south.

The "dance," this phasing between the two weather systems won't get going until the storm is up toward Maritme Canada, so they'll get a nice big nor'easter out of this up there. Actually, Down East Maine ought to still keep an eye on this thing, too.

That's not to say there won't be any weather from this semi-nor'easter in New England. There's still a winter storm watch for southeaastern New England Sunday night for up to seven inches of snow.

There's also still a chance of light snow in much of central New England, possibly extending northwest well into New Hampshire and southeastern Vermont. At least maybe. But accumulations won't be horrible.

It'll stay chilly, but not ridiculously so for March through Tuesday. A wavering weather front will cause a bit of rain, snow, and maybe even ice in parts of northern New York, Vermont  and New Hampshire Wednesday and Thursday, but it won't amount to much.

Especially since daytime temperatures will reach the 40s in most of the North Country by then.

There are also signs that on Friday, there might be a brief blast of warm air to bring us back into springlike 50s and 60s, amid a continued chance of rain.

Friday, March 18, 2016

We Still Have No Clue About What That Freakin' Nor'Easter's Gonna Do

One scenario has a nor'easter hugging the coast
Monday, giving almost all of New England
heavy snow. Other scenarios make the
storm miss all but eastern New England.
We'll see.  
All of us weather geeks have been on nor'easter watch for the past few days, wondering what, if anything the potential storm will do to New England come Sunday night and Monday.

We're still wondering as of Friday morning.

The computer forecasting models are still struggling with this thing, giving a range of options from totally going out to sea, to blasting most of New England with heavy snow, except bringing mostly rain to the coast, or something in between.

Forecasting a nor'easter, especially a few days in advance, is tricky. It's even trickier when you're getting toward spring time.

The whole weather pattern in the northern hemisphere is usually in a state of seasonal transition by now, so the weather is even more unpredictable than usual.

Last evening, a lot of the computer models seemed to trend the storm more to the west, which would put virtually all of New England and the New York metro area under an increasing threat of a big late season snowstorm.

This Friday morning, many, but not all, of the computer models are trending a little east again, which would still keep eastern New England under the threat of a big snowstorm, at least for now. But that eastward model trend would place more western and northern areas, like Vermont, under much less of a threat for heavy snow.

Still, nobody is out of the woods. The forecasts could trend west again. Or not.

I hate to give you such short notice of a potential larger storm, but I don't think any meteorologist or forecaster will have a good handle on where this nor'easter will go until tonight, or more likely Saturday morning.
My much earlier than normal new daffodil shoots in my
St. Albans, Vermont gardens got reitroduced to
winter this morning.  

Just keep an eye out and we'll see. Maybe there will be a big snowfall, maybe there won't.

We do know we are transitioning back to winter, at least temporarily today. Early this morning, a cold front arrived where I am in northwestern Vermont, bringing a burst of snow. That front will sweep south today, and it will turn wintry.

As noted yesterday, it won't get above freezing in most of northern New England Saturday. Not odd for mid-March, but a shock after the warm weather we've had, and the springlike showers and thunderstorms we had Thursday.

Even if parts of New England do get a big snowstorm Monday, the snow on the ground won't last. If you get toward this time of year, snow melts fast.

Plus, although it will be somewhat colder than normal through Tuesday, it looks like a warming trend might set in for the second half of next week.

It probably won't get as toasty warm as it has in the past week, but the second half of next week will likely have near to somewhat above normal temperatures.

If it does snow Monday, the warmth late next week would melt the stuff. The weather pattern still looks unsettled, but there will be occasional precipitation next week. Probably nothing on Tuesday, and chances are at this point that anything that falls from Wednesday on would be rain in most spots in the Northeast.